There was a post yesterday by Seth Godin on testing and how B2B marketers often avoid the early testing work that can save so much money later:
“Business to business marketing is almost always better if you treat it like direct marketing. ”
“Get it right for ten people before you rush around scaling up to a thousand. It’s far less romantic than spending money at the start, but it’s the reliable, proven way to get to scale if you care enough to do the work.”
You can read the full post here- Getting to scale: direct marketing vs. mass market thinking.
Testing is a common theme today- analytics, metrics and data-driven activities are exploding in popularity- but adoption is slow. Marketers simply don’t take the time to test.
Data-Driven Marketing, a new book on data-driven marketing by Mark Jeffery, spends a lot of time on the challenge of getting to a data-driven marketing process, with the first two chapters being about why it’s not being done and how to overcome that:
Chapter 1: The Marketing Divide- Why 80 Percent of Companies Don’t Make Data-Driven Marketing Decisions- And Those Who Do Are the Leaders
Chapter 2: Where Do You Start? Overcoming the Five Obstacles to Data-Driven Marketing
In chapter 2, when discussing starting with small experiments to test campaigns before rolling out, Jeffery says:
“Although the majority of marketers are aware of this approach, my research shows that the vast majority of marketing organizations, almost 70 percent, do not use experiments to pilot test marketing campaigns relative to a control group. Why? The answer is that most marketing organizations’ reward systems are based on activities, not results”
This is what Pragmatic Marketing calls “list based marketing” and actively tries to change with their excellent Effective Product Marketing seminar.
In Chapter 2 Data-Driven Marketing lists 5 specific obstacles:
1. Getting started
3. Lack of Data
4. Resources and Tools
5. People and Change
Jeffery’s core recommendation? Start small and use wins to driven recognition of value and garner more focus and investment in data-driven activities. Also, find and partner with like-minded people to gain more influence. He also makes the important point that planning for testing and measurability early on allows you to structure your campaigns for those goals without a significant increase in cost.
Avinash Kaushik, Googles Analytics Evangelist, identifies similar issues in the world of web analytics:
“You’ll find that data or tool are not your problem, it really is your company culture (both in terms of using data or getting your site tech teams to do things to give you data)” from How to Choose a Web Analytics Tool: A Radical Alternative
And Avinash has a good post on Seven Steps to Creating a Data Driven Decision Making Culture. where he talks about making the data easily relevant to the needs of stakeholders and showing specific wins in those areas.
Taking the direct marketing practice of testing to other areas is compelling. David Ogilvy, in Ogilvy on Advertising, published 1985, spends a lot of time talking about testing and what advertising can learn from direct marketing. Reading this book suggests that much of the success of Ogilvy’s advertising business flowed from a strong product marketing mindset (knowledge of the product and customer) and a strong testing ethos- things that weren’t traditional in advertising at the time.
In short, everyone agrees they need to be more data-driven, barriers to getting there are largely cultural, and small wins are the way to shift the culture and gather the focus required to scale the resources and infrastructure needed to effectively get there.
And if you are having trouble getting momentum even towards getting analytics support even towards a small win? Maybe you can’t get access to that data?
Consider using external analytical infrastructure- tools like Hubspot’s website grader, the Compete website for competitive information (Keep Your Enemies Closer), and Alexa for website traffic information. Also, Google is more powerful the you think. Use Advanced Google search methods to analyze your site for inbound links (link:<yoursite.com>) and help you search your and competitors sites (site:<site.com>) to look for trends and statistics.